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The Italian question still protrudes its vexed elements upon the world, ready at any moment to light up such a blaze of war in Europe as to pale the flame of its own Vesuvius, and make the game of balls upon the other side of the Atlantic a contest of pigmies in comparison. It is now nearly two years since Naples was annexed, but the problem of Italian unity has, in the interim, made no advance to a solution. But not to advance in the face of a reactionary current, is to be borne down the stream. We islanders are
* La Monorchia Italiana sotto lo scettro della earn, diSavoia. Par Felice Daneo. Torino. 1861.
Urbano Ratazzi concenni Storici Parlamentari. Par Avvocato Felice Mooliotti. Pinerolo. 1862.
Sulla Potenza Temporale del Papa, del Covvarlo Bon-compagni. Torino. 1861.
LItalia, La Civilta Latina; e La Civilta Germaniea. Di Pasquale Villari. Firenze. 1862. VOL. LYIL—NO. 2
hardly sufficiently cognizant of the many advantages we enjoy by being cooped up within our ocean-bound prison. Our cliffs are like those turrets which Homer bestows upon the Greek dames, whence we are able to look down with the serenest philosophy upon the plains of Europe even while they are the cock-pit of vast armies. At present, the prospect promises much more mischief than many which have excited double its attention. There is really no disguising it; every man's house on the Continent is undermined, and any morning he may wake up and find the roof taken off and the walls tumbling about his ears. The peace of Europe depends upon France, and France depends upon the uncertain action—the dubious fate of one restlees man. Let but this reed give way, and 10
Italy is again overrun by Austrian armies, Francis II. reconducted to Naples, the Duke of Tuscany once more enthroned in the Pitti Palace, and the very monarchy of Sardinia which at present seeks to clutch the old Roman dominion, swept out of the world. If death would only knock at a certain chamber of the Tuileries, the ex-prince of Modena might not only claim his own again, but revel in the appanage of the Transalpine kingdom, thrown in by way of recompense for his faithful adherence to legitimist principles. At all events, Francis II. and his companion in misfortune, think it useless to quit the land of their former glories, since so slight a turn of fortune's wheel may replace them in their old positions; and therefore the one on the Tiber, and the other by the Po, are anxiously awaiting the result of eventualities.
If into any question Fate had contrived to pack the most inflammable materials, she could hardly have contrived a more ignitible bag of sulphur than what is involved in the solution of Italian unity. The question of races is complicated by the question of religion, and that of both, by the rights of legitimacy as opposed to the sovereignty of peoples. The question of nationality alone ought to match the flames of war it must excite without, by the feuds of provincial jealousy it must light up within. Then there are a host of minor questions, each sufficient to furnish matter for broils and discord during one generation at least; the question of Capitols, of the rights of minor principalities, of the privileges of municipal governments, of the distribution of fiscal burdens and national armaments. Looking at the whole thing, we are certainly astonished that the combustible compound has maintained itself so long in a state of quiescence, that the materials have not exploded long ago, and blown to pieces not only Italy, but every body and every thing that has had the remotest connection with it.
We have no wish to exaggerate the difficulties which beset the path of Italian regeneration. We feel, indeed, it is only by looking these difficulties straight in the face, by probing the extent of them, that we can discover the best remedies, and urge those whose business is concerned herein to be as prompt as possible in their application. Were people fully aware of the ball of fire hanging over their heads,
they would insist on its being put out on the shortest notice. If there was a bog in a populous locality which broke up the road, and threatened to visit the neighborhood with a pestilential miasma, the demand would proceed from ten thousand mouths to have the place covered in and a path formed for continuous progress. Nor would the ferment be likely to be staid by the knowledge that the opposition emanated only from one quarter, which was supposed to find its peculiar account in jeopardizing the lives of millions, and arresting the march of civilization. All continental Europe has an immediate interest in the settlement of the Italian question. But to the Italians themselves these reiterated delays, this perpetual marching forward in order to move backward, is a matter of life and death. With one foot on dry land, with the other in a boggy syrtis, as dismal as that which swallowed up their ancient armies, -not knowing whether they are destined to belong to the regions of light or to those of chaos, their position is one of extreme weakness, with all the pain of the most agonizing doubt. After buffeting the waves of revolution and grasping the shore, they find themselves in a state of exhaustion, enveloped in a wave which threatens to drag them down to the uttermost abyss. If the obstruction came from an enemy, it would be understood, and, doubtless, dealt with accordingly. But the obstacle comes in the guise of a friend, who has in reality helped them to reach the haven he forbids them to enter. The Italians are consequently obliged to fawn upon the imperial shade which stands between them and their hopes, to lick the hand which pinions them to the precipice, to praise those procrastinations as the hesitations of wisdom which they would otherwise denounce as the most wicked of follies. Or if a sterner voice from the tortured reaches the ear of the torturer, it is only to use a similar entreaty to that which Burke addressed to his recaicitrant constituents at Bristol: "Condole with us if we fall, cheer us if we succeed, chide us if we stray; but do let us move on ; for God's sake let us move on!"
The state of Italy has of late been the topic of much discussion both in the Parliament and the press, but we have not met in either quarter with what we consider a faithful picture of its real condition. It is generally supposed that the provinces lately annexed to Sardinia are really united under its government. Even the Ultramontanes are too much absorbed in vamping out a fictitious case against their opponents to perceive the advantages which a strict adherence to fact would have given them, and have at least by their silence admitted the supposition. It is true there has been a plebiscite, that the flag of Savoy floats over the Hotel de Villes of their respective capitols, that small detachments of Piedmontese soldiers may be seen at certain times of the day marching into public squares and marching out again. With regard to all these internal marks of annexation which can be put up and taken down again within the course of twenty-four hours, the union is complete enough. But there is a hidden life behind all this pasteboard phenomena. There is the element of popular wills, of social laws, of equally-distributed burdens, to which, if the union does not penetrate, the solemn badges of it are as idle as the doves' necks and united hearts upon the wedding scutcheons of a pair of adverse tempers, who have determined to be joined together, simply because their estates are joined together. Now we are afraid the union of Sardinia with the annexed provinces of Central and Southern Italy, has not yet reached that state of harmonious concord as to justify the flourish of trumpets with which it has been announced. As far as we can judge who have enjoyed the advantage of a close inspection, the union appears to be one of benefits to be enjoyed rather than of burdens to be borne, or of work to be accomplished. Sardinia has been allowed by her new subjects to assume the honors of government, on condition that she will spare their muscles and not tax their purse. All the advantages of liberty they are quite willing to share, provided Sardinia will take to herself the whole of the expense. Hence while over almost the entire peninsula there floats only one flag as the symbol of the same central authority, there are some half-dozen different systems of coinage, as many codes of law, and a variable and most unequal distribution of fiscal burdens. The Piedmontese are taxed at double the rate of the Neapolitans, while the contributions to the revenue of the Central States fluctuate between both. Now the pocket is a prolific cause of revolution in the States. Many people
will bear any amount of retrogressive laws, but we have heard of none who would allow their imposts to be doubled, without knocking the most paternal government to pieces. Liberty, like most other good things, appears to be a very expensive article. But were Sardinia to impartially distribute over the peninsula, with the freedom she has acquired, the price she has paid for it, we very much tear we should have the ungenerous task of chronicling in the next number of this Review her departed glory.
This dilemma, which would present a serious difficulty to any government, is peculiarly embarrassing to that of Piedmont. By the cession of Savoy and Nice to France, she has stript herself of her natural boundaries. Formerly a few regiments at Esseillon could have kept at bay a large army. A few forts along the river Var, or by the Cornice Pass, would have been equally effective on the side of the sea. But now the keys of both these strong positions are in the hands of France. That power any morning she chooses can send battalion after battalion tumbling over the Alps to seize the capitol of her government, while she marches her regiments of Zouaves along the Cornice Pass to seize the capital of her commerce. Any opposition on the part of Piedmont, with her present force, would be as idle as to attempt to stem the current of the Niagara with a waterspout. But how is an army sufficiently numerous and well-appointed to contend with the French on equal ground to be raised, unless by an increased revenue, and whence is that revenue to be derived unless from increased taxation? Thus Victor Emanuel is driven to the option of living in a state of dependence to an unscrupulous neighbor without, or of incurring certain revolt from rebellious subjects within.
But there is another aspect of this difficulty which must not be lost sight of. Italy has more sea-board than any other nation in Europe except England. She requires in proportion as great a navy. If France continues to double her fleet, it is far more imperative on Italy to maintain a navy which shall be able to cope with her upon the seas than it is for England. But where are the means to come from? How is Italy to create an iron-mailed fleet, and erect such arsenals as Cherbourg and Toulon? It is now some eight years ago